social media marketingGartner Inc. is one of the top technology research firms in the world, and they’ve just issued a report on the state of digital marketing. So as we get ready to wrap up 2015 and start optimizing for the SERPs and PPC campaigns of 2016, it’s important to take stock of where we are. The new Gartner report is titled “CMO Spend Survey 2015-2016: Digital Marketing Comes of Age,” and while it confirmed trends that our digital marketing agency has been seeing for years, it should cause some digital doubters to stand up and take note.

The survey pulled data from 339 corporations in North America and the U.K., each with annual revenues of more than $500 million. Some of the key findings:

    • Fully 98% of marketers agreed that offline and online marketing are merging.
    • About 61% of the CMOs who responded said their marketing spend was 11% of their company’s revenue in 2015. That’s a 10% year over year increase in marketing spend since last year.
  • Two out of three marketers expected their marketing budgets to grow in 2016, with digital marketing representing the fastest growing piece of their ad spending.

Social Media Marketing in 2016
One of the key takeaways from the new report was the response to a simple question. Marketers and CMOs were asked to rank their top five digital marketing priorities for the new year, and 64% listed social media marketing, the single most common response.

Why such overwhelming support for social media marketing? Because of the low barrier of entry, social media marketing can be an effective tactic for businesses of any size, from brick and mortar shops here in Las Vegas to massive corporations trading on Wall Street. Plus, social media strategies are an integral part of other digital marketing techniques, like content marketing and search engine optimization. Plus, research has shown that 74% of brand marketers see an increase in website traffic after investing just six hours per week in social media.

Why is social media marketing so popular? Because it works…

Search Will Still Be King of the Hill Online in 2016
Blogs and social media networks reach eight out of 10 U.S. internet users and suck up 23% of our time online. But at the end of the day, most online experiences begin with a search engine (read: Google).

Pay per click ads and local SEO marketing were vital tools for small and medium-sized businesses in 2015, and will continue to replace traditional outbound marketing in 2016. That’s because while direct mailers or print advertising have a 1.7% close rate (or less), SEO-based leads have a close rate as high as 14.6%. Why are these digital tools so much better at closing leads? Because they allow companies to better target the right consumers, getting their ads or website in front of qualified leads.

So whether you devote your digital marketing efforts at PPC, SEO, content marketing, or D — all of the above — businesses can’t afford to stay offline any longer. The Gartner report should be eye-opening to anyone that’s not already shifting their marketing budget online.